Jess Rooney

A date with New York City

Watch as sleepy eyes flutter between dreams and reality.  

Watch as harsh melodies full of sticky intent tangles themselves on delight. 

Watch as worlds struggle to escape gravities pull towards a collision they cannot prevent. 

Watch as pain lines the skin clinging to bone. 

Watch as the fantasy grows dark and life takes hold. 

Now watch as the real adventure begins.


A rush of people walk up, down left and right and across each other’s path. None of their eyes make connect with another’s but they seem not to care if their bodies do. The only thing to stop them in their tracks is the opportunity to quickly glance at the bright screens dangling from the ceiling. The screens are full of lists of places, times, cancellations, delays, and gate numbers that change with the rhythm of the crowd’s footsteps. A girl carrying a large red backpack sluggishly pauses in the middle of the traffic of people. Her eyes find a sign that reads “Ground Transportation” and her body follows the direction of its arrow. Minutes late she is standing in front of a ticket machine. The screen shows many different ticket options. She chooses one that to her, might be the right option. Following the normal procedure, she pushes her card into the slot marked “insert here” and waits. A large error message appears across the screen. The girl stares at the 5 letters for a second. As the next step is usually to try again she inserts the card again with a little more feeling. “Error”! She is overtired and running on empty but is not quite ready for defeat. She begins to look over the ticket information again. She knows that she must have missed something. Just a few metres away a man is standing chatting to another man. Both men are wearing matching white shirts and navy trousers. He notices the girl standing in front of the ticket machine whose face is scrunched up making her look like a confused pug. Definitely, has no idea how to use the machines he thought.  He approaches her with a bright smile and asks if he could help. She turns to face him and replies: “Has the look of pure confusion given me away”? He laughed and replies: ” a little bit”.  It only took him a minute to explain how the tickets system works and proceeds to help with her first purchase. He then kindly walks her to the right bus stop. She waves goodbye to him as he returns inside the airport. As he leaves, he thinks to himself, yep that girl is going to get lost. The girl stands beside the other people who are waiting for the same bus. While she waits many things run through her head. Her travels so far and the places still to come. So far it has been an incredible trip and this next city has a lot to live up to. Do you hear that New York!

Yes, my next stop was the big city that never sleeps where a friend who was living there was kind enough to put me up for a few nights. Thanks, Rebecca! This wasn’t my first time to meet New York but it was the first time we were unchaperoned. All we had was two days together so I decided to let New York guide my feet.

My second time there and I was still struck by how daunting the concrete towers were. They seemed to bend inwards to block out most of the sky and if I stood gazing for too long they seemed to move towards me. On my previous, of the city, I didn’t have the chance to see everything I wanted to. This time I had a few stops on my list I was determined to see and which required me to use the subway. That might not sound like a big deal but for someone who comes from an island where buses are the usual transport option and not an underground train, it makes the experience a little bit more exciting for me than maybe for you. Did I also mention confusing too? The reason for this was that the destination above the platform doesn’t list each stop. The signs only have the direction it is going and not each stage so if you’re not super familiar with the grid system it takes a minute to get your bearings.  First, I took a shot at trying to figure out the subway system myself but that just led me to walk on and off of the same train several times before making a decision. Happily, when I wasn’t 100% sure which train to get on there were plenty of people around to ask. I have never had a fear of talking to strangers and there happens to be a lot of them in New York so you will never have a problem getting a little help. Being alone forces you to talk to people you wouldn’t normally and I feel like this is definitely a plus for traveling alone and also a good way to kick yourself out of your comfort zone.

Warning, Flashing lights, and billboards!

I feel like there isn’t a time of day that Time Square is empty of people or as quiet as a whisper. It is the best place to see a multitude of different cultures packed into one area and it’s a great spot for people watching. So many different types of people, tourist & locals who all have different styles, mannerisms, and languages. But if that’s not your cup of tea (cue to stop typing and sip my tea) it’s also a great place to shop, eat and buy tickets to Broadway shows. Yes, Broadway! Music, plays, comedy & dance. On my previous visit, I bought tickets to see Avenue Q. There were other shows and plays showing that day like “Equus” starring Daniel Radcliffe but I chose foul-mouthed puppets over Mr. Potter as I didn’t actually know much about the play. The masterful puppet show was a hilarious take on coming of age in modern society. I think it is still running on Broadway so if you’re into puppets who sing about internet porn and not wearing underwear then you should check it out!

You might recognise the below building in movies like Home Alone 2, Arthur and in Crocodile Dundee when he meets a bidet for the first time (he was all of us). The Plaza Hotel really is a landmark in its own right.

Across from The Plaza is one of the entrances to Central Park where you will find people relaxing in the sun, listening to buskers and taking selfies (yes I was one of the selfie-takers). What you will also find is a lonely Big Bird and rodents having a great time swimming in its ponds. OK so that doesn’t sound so picturesque but if you can look past the rats (because it’s a city and they are everywhere) it is actually a really nice park to walk around in.

Do you agree this is the saddest Big Bird you have ever seen? I just wanted to give him a hug but thought it was probably a bad idea to go up and hug a stranger. Even if that stranger is Big Bird.

A few years ago I had my possessions (including large caricature portrait) scanned through an x-ray machine, then I  travelled up 102 floors to the top of the Empire State Building and gazed over the view in front of me. This time I opted for a different view. I chose to walk along one of the oldest bridges in New York ‘The Brooklyn Bridge’. I really like bridge architecture and this one was a beauty. Not only is it a wonderful bridge to stroll across but you also get a great view of different sections of the city.

 Bonjour Lady Liberty.

It’s not a trip to NY if you don’t visit its leading lady and I did just that. I stepped aboard a ferry that takes you over to say hello to the Statue of Liberty. The first thing to know is that there are different ticket options you can buy. You can purchase a ticket to visit the island where the Statue of Liberty is mounted and Ellis Island or you can get a ticket that also includes entrance inside The Statue of Liberty. But that does not include access to the top of the statue. You need to book that privilege way in advance (as I was told by the ticket inspector guarding the entrance to the top of ladies head). Inside the base of the statue is a museum detailing the history of the statue. I didn’t really know anything about the statue beforehand so the museum was a great way to learn a little of her history before climbing the 354 steps towards the top.

A bonus of visiting the island is this great view of the city. Look how amazing it looks in the sun! From the island, it looks as though the city is floating over the sea and could drift away at any moment.

The face below shows the original colour of the statue. The bronze turns green from constantly being battered by the elements. Her eyes are intense don’t you think?

And here is the spiral stairs I never got to walk up…

The Island Border

If you decide to visit both Islands I suggest you visit Ellis Island first. Why? Because the information and history behind the island are grim and actually quite sad. So going from beautiful views to gloomy examination rooms inside Ellis Islands walls is a bit of a downer.

If you know anything about the history of this island, (or if you don’t) this is where people from all over the world came first to start their new life in America. After spending weeks on crowded boats they then waited to be inspected on those same boats and hoped that they would be allowed to enter. For some who were deemed not healthy enough or who didn’t have the money to pay the entrance fee, the view from the island was all they saw of New York City.

My two days in New York City came and went so fast. I would really like to spend more time there one day or even live there to really get a feel for the city. But until then I will remember my time there fondly.


Have you been to New York?

What was your favourite thing you remember about the city?

Let me know your thoughts or if you have any recommendations for my next visit.


Jess x


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